On screen they were cute, lovable, hyper-intelligent scamps who might eat your sofa or shag your prospective mother-in-law’s leg as soon as look at them, but always came to the rescue in the end. Off screen they were loud, disobedient, permanently shitting monsters. Following the recent sad demise of Uggie, the dog from The Artist, we ask: where are the biggest animal stars now?
Beethoven from Beethoven, 1992
Beethoven was a walloping great St Bernard, played by Chris, with a knack for the sort of barbecue-ruining behaviour that’d see him dumped in sack outside Battersea Dogs Home in a second if he tried it round NME’s gaff.
What happened next: Beethoven was voted ‘favourite film dog’ in 2010, slobbering all over runner up Old Yeller.
Where are they now: Shortly after filming Beethoven 2 in 1993, Chris went to live on a farm. No, you can’t go and visit him, but he’s very happy there. Since then three dogs have played the part of Beethoven in subsequent films – Benz, Dolly and Boomer.
Babe from Babe, 1995
Ever wanted to take home the pig from Babe? How big’s your garden? A total of 48 piglets were used to film the first movie, used in batches of six until they grew to big for the film.
What happened next: A whole new batch of hogs were recruited for Babe 2: Pig In The City, like some kind of swine-based Italia Conti school.
Where are they now: All female, every one of the pigs who played Babe were given to universities or to farms to become mothers, each adorned with a document insisting that, as porcine A-listers, they were to be spared the knife. A kind of get-out-of-the-oven-free card.
Frank The Pug from Men In Black, 1997
An informant alien from Remoolia disguised as a pug, Frank was essentially Doggy Bear and played by a trained dog called Mushu in the first two movies.
What happened next: Director Barry Sonnenfeld was such a fan of Mushu’s method acting approach to the first film that he gave him an even bigger role in Men In Black II, including comedy song-and-dance numbers.
Where are they now: There wasn’t much sign of Frank in Men In Black III for a very good reason. A lovely elderly couple from abroad adopted him after the second film, and he went to live with them, a very long way away. No, further away than that.
Toto from The Wizard Of Oz, 1939
Toto was played by Cairn terrier Terry, the Meryl Streep of movie dogs who had already appeared in six films before getting the Oz gig. Such was her fame that she was paid $125 a week to appear in The Wizard Of Oz, more than most of her human co-stars. She earned her way though, performing all of her own stunts and almost going to live on a farm when one of the Winkie guards trod on her.
What happened next: A superstar destined for their own permanent Hollywood memorial Terry, whose name was changed officially to Toto in 1942, went on to star in a further nine films including The Chocolate Soldier and George Washington Slept Here.
Where are they now: Toto got farmed in 1945, but not before mothering Rommy, who continued the family acting dynasty by appearing in Airforce and Reap The Wild Wind.
Willy from Free Willy, 1993
Both watery tear-jerker and unknowing sex trade pun, Free Willy starred Keiko, a performing orca whale from Mexico City.
What happened next: His appearance in the film prompted the launch of the Free Willy-Keiko Foundation which raised $7 million from donations from schoolchildren to build him better living facilities.
Where are they now: In a weird case of whale fact mirroring whale fiction, a three-year project began in 1995 to release Keiko into the wild. Shortly after being released, however, Keiko turned up in a Norwegian fjord craving human company having failed to integrate into the wild. He farmed it in 2003, probably from pneumonia.
Hooch from Turner And Hooch, 1989
Part flat-destroying, booze-slurping demon dog, part canine Columbo, Hooch (played by Beasley) was Tom Hanks’ bored cop Turner’s unlikely junkyard dog partner as they set out to track down the killer of Hooch’s owner. Spoiler: it doesn’t end well for the slobbery creature. We mean the dog.
What happened next: Hopelessly typecast, Beasley’s career failed to take off in the wake of the film and he, um, ‘retired’ in 1992. Shit business.
Where are they now: Farm.
K-9 from K-9, 1989
Named Jerry Lee after the piano-abusing rocker of yore, John Belushi’s canine sidekick in this cop romp was played by real-life police dog Koton, who made 24 arrests during his working life and uncovered $1.2 million of cocaine.
What happened next: In the film, Kuton was shot while bringing down the villain, but was saved to star in K911 and K9:PI.
Where are they now: Like Keiko, a bizarre twist of fate saw Koton’s fate mirror his cinematic one. While arresting a suspect in a real-life murder case in 1991, Koton was shot. Raced to the farm, he sadly couldn’t be resuscitated. But he’s still very happy there, we saw him last week.
Flipper from Flipper, 1964
The iconic ‘slippery Lassie’ of the 1996 film was largely created by CGI, but the original Flipper from the ’60s TV show was played by a total of six dolphins. The most famous was Kathy, acting alongside Susie, Patty, Scotty, Clown and Squirt.
What happened next: After production for the series finished, Kathy retired to live alone in a tank in Florida.
Where are they now: Kathy went to the eternal Seaworld by her own flipper when, in 1970, she swam into her old trainer Ric O’Barry’s arms, took a deep breath and held it until she sank to the bottom of the tank. “Dolphins and whales are not automatic air breathers,” O’Barry explained. “Every breath they take is a conscious effort. So they can end their life whenever they want to and that’s what Cathy did. She chose to not take that next breath and you have to call that suicide.”
Marcel from Friends, 1994
Alongside her double Monkey, Katie the capuchin monkey played Marcel, Ross’ mischievous sidekick, for eight episodes in the first two seasons of Friends, during which time she was a total diva hated by the rest of the cast. She would constantly eat worms and vomit, and her best takes always made the show no matter how her co-stars felt about their own performances.
What happened next: Scum rises. Katie and Monkey went on to a glittering Hollywood career including starring roles in Ace Ventura II: When Nature Calls, George Of The Jungle, Flinstones II: Viva Rock Vegas, Outbreak, Addicted To Love and Instinct as well as numerous commercials.
Where are they now: Still treading the boards, dahling, and now turning to modeling. In February, Katie was featured in a raunchy photo shoot with Kendal Jenner.
Papi from Beverley Hills Chihuahua, 2008
In a bizarre reversal of the usual screen dog fate, Rusco – the Chihuahua who played tiny Mexican warrior dog Papi in madcap talking mutt romp Beverly Hills Chihuahua – was discovered in an LA animal shelter and rescued from doggy death row at the very last moment by animal trainer Mike Alexander, who was looking for stars for the film.
What happened next: After stealing the show in BHC I, Papi became the central character in the next two films in the series.
Where are they now: Alive and well and living with Alexander at his LA ranch. No, really. You can go and see him.